In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast, maneuverable long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller powerful short-range attackers. They were originally developed in the late 19th century by Fernando Villaamil for the Spanish Navy as a defense against torpedo boats, and by the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, these "torpedo boat destroyers" (TBDs) were "large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats". Although the term "destroyer" had been used interchangeably with "TBD" and "torpedo boat destroyer" by navies since 1892, the term "torpedo boat destroyer" had been generally shortened to simply "destroyer" by nearly all navies by the First World War.
Before World War II destroyers were light vessels with little endurance for unattended ocean operations; typically a number of destroyers and a single destroyer tender operated together. After the war, the advent of the guided missile allowed destroyers to take on the surface combatant roles previously filled by battleships and cruisers. This resulted in larger and more powerful guided missile destroyers more capable of independent operation.
At the start of the 21st century, destroyers are the global standard for surface combatant ships, with only two nations (United States and Russia) operating the heavier class cruisers, with no battleships or true battlecruisers remaining. Modern guided missile destroyers are equivalent in tonnage but vastly superior in firepower to cruisers of the World War II era, and are capable of carrying nuclear tipped cruise missiles. At 510 feet (160 m) long, a displacement of 9,200 tons, and with armament of more than 90 missiles, guided missile destroyers such as the Arleigh Burke-class are actually larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.
Some European navies, such as the French, Spanish, or German, use the term "frigate" for their destroyers, which leads to some confusion.
The emergence and development of the destroyer was related to the invention of the self-propelled torpedo in the 1860s. A navy now had the potential to destroy a superior enemy battle fleet using steam launches to fire torpedoes. Cheap, fast boats armed with torpedoes called torpedo boats were built and became a threat to large capital ships near enemy coasts. The first seagoing vessel designed to launch the self-propelled Whitehead torpedo was the 33-ton HMS Lightning in 1876. She was armed with two drop collars to launch these weapons, these were replaced in 1879 by a single torpedo tube in the bow. By the 1880s, the type had evolved into small ships of 50–100 tons, fast enough to evade enemy picket boats.
At first, the threat of a torpedo boat attack to a battle fleet was considered to exist only when at anchor; but as faster and longer-range torpedoes were developed, the threat extended to cruising at sea. In response to this new threat, more heavily gunned picket boats called "catchers" were built which were used to escort the battle fleet at sea. They needed significant seaworthiness and endurance to operate with the battle fleet, and as they necessarily became larger, they became officially designated "torpedo boat destroyers", and by the First World War were largely known as "destroyers" in English. The anti-torpedo boat origin of this type of ship is retained in its name in other languages, including French (contre-torpilleur), Italian (cacciatorpediniere), Portuguese (contratorpedeiro), Czech (torpédoborec), Greek (antitorpiliko,αντιτορπιλικό), Dutch (torpedobootjager) and, up until the Second World War, Polish (kontrtorpedowiec, now obsolete).
Once destroyers became more than just catchers guarding an anchorage, it was realized that they were also ideal to take over the role of torpedo boats themselves, so they were fitted with torpedo tubes as well as guns. At that time, and even into World War I, the only function of destroyers was to protect their own battle fleet from enemy torpedo attacks and to make such attacks on the battleships of the enemy. The task of escorting merchant convoys was still in the future.
An important development came with the construction of HMS Swift in 1884, later redesignated TB 81. This was a large (137 ton) torpedo boat with four 47 mm quick-firing guns and three torpedo tubes. At 23.75 knots (43.99 km/h; 27.33 mph), while still not fast enough to engage enemy torpedo boats reliably, the ship at least had the armament to deal with them.
Another forerunner of the torpedo boat destroyer was the Japanese torpedo boat Kotaka (Falcon), built in 1885. Designed to Japanese specifications and ordered from the Glasgow Yarrow shipyards in 1885, she was transported in parts to Japan, where she was assembled and launched in 1887. The 165-foot (50 m) long vessel was armed with four 1-pounder (37 mm) quick-firing guns and six torpedo tubes, reached 19 knots (35 km/h), and at 203 tons, was the largest torpedo boat built to date. In her trials in 1889, Kotaka demonstrated that she could exceed the role of coastal defense, and was capable of accompanying larger warships on the high seas. The Yarrow shipyards, builder of the parts for Kotaka, "considered Japan to have effectively invented the destroyer".
The first vessel designed for the explicit purpose of hunting and destroying torpedo boats was the torpedo gunboat. Essentially very small cruisers, torpedo gunboats were equipped with torpedo tubes and an adequate gun armament, intended for hunting down smaller enemy boats. By the end of the 1890s torpedo gunboats were made obsolete by their more successful contemporaries, the torpedo boat destroyers, which were much faster.
The first example of this was HMS Rattlesnake, designed by Nathaniel Barnaby in 1885, and commissioned in response to the Russian War scare. The gunboat was armed with torpedoes and designed for hunting and destroying smaller torpedo boats. Exactly 200 feet (61 m) long and 23 feet (7.0 m) in beam, she displaced 550 tons. Built of steel, Rattlesnake was un-armoured with the exception of a 3⁄4-inch protective deck. She was armed with a single 4-inch/25-pounder breech-loading gun, six 3-pounder QF guns and four 14-inch (360 mm) torpedo tubes, arranged with two fixed tubes at the bow and a set of torpedo dropping carriages on either side. Four torpedo reloads were carried.
A number of torpedo gunboat classes followed, including the Grasshopper class, the Sharpshooter class, the Alarm class and the Dryad class – all built for the Royal Navy during the 1880s and the 1890s.
Fernando Villaamil, second officer of the Ministry of the Navy of Spain, designed his own torpedo gunboat to combat the threat from the torpedo boat. He asked several British shipyards to submit proposals capable of fulfilling these specifications. In 1885 the Spanish Navy chose the design submitted by the shipyard of James and George Thomson of Clydebank. Destructor (Destroyer in Spanish) was laid down at the end of the year, launched in 1886, and commissioned in 1887.
She displaced 348 tons, and was equipped with triple-expansion engines generating 3,784 ihp (2,822 kW), for a maximum speed of 22.6 knots (41.9 km/h), which made her one of the faster ships in the world in 1888. She was armed with one 90 mm (3.5 in) Spanish-designed Hontoria breech-loading gun, four 57 mm (2.2 in) (6-pounder) Nordenfelt guns, two 37 mm (1.5 in) (3-pdr) Hotchkiss cannons and two 15-inch (38 cm) Schwartzkopff torpedo tubes. The ship carried three torpedoes per tube. She was manned by a crew of 60.
In terms of gunnery, speed and dimensions, the specialised design to chase torpedo boats and her high seas capabilities, Destructor was an important precursor to the torpedo boat destroyer.
Early torpedo gunboat designs lacked the range and speed to keep up with the fleet they were supposed to protect. In 1892, the Third Sea Lord, Rear Admiral John "Jacky" Fisher ordered the development of a new type of ships equipped with the then novel water-tube boilers and quick-firing small calibre guns. Six ships to the specifications circulated by the Admiralty were ordered initially, comprising three different designs each produced by a different shipbuilder: HMS Daring and HMS Decoy from John I. Thornycroft & Company, HMS Havock and HMS Hornet from Yarrows, and HMS Ferret and HMS Lynx from Laird, Son & Company.
These torpedo boat destroyers all featured a turtleback (i.e. rounded) forecastle that was characteristic of early British TBDs. HMS Daring and HMS Decoy were both built by Thornycroft, displaced 260 tons (287.8 tons full load) and were 185 feet in length. They were armed with one 12-pounder gun and three 6-pounder guns, with one fixed 18-in torpedo tube in the bow plus two more torpedo tubes on a revolving mount abaft the two funnels. Later the bow torpedo tube was removed and two more 6-pounder guns added instead. They produced 4,200 hp from a pair of Thornycroft water-tube boilers, giving them a top speed of 27 knots, giving the range and speed to travel effectively with a battle fleet. In common with subsequent early Thornycroft boats, they had sloping sterns and double rudders.
The French navy, an extensive user of torpedo boats, built its first torpedo boat destroyer in 1899, with the Durandal-class 'torpilleur d'escadre'. The United States commissioned its first torpedo boat destroyer, USS Bainbridge, Destroyer No. 1, in 1902 and by 1906 there were 16 destroyers in service with the US Navy.
Torpedo boat destroyer designs continued to evolve around the turn of the 20th century in several key ways. The first was the introduction of the steam turbine. The spectacular unauthorized demonstration of the turbine powered Turbinia at the 1897 Spithead Navy Review, which, significantly, was of torpedo boat size, prompted the Royal Navy to order a prototype turbine powered destroyer, HMS Viper of 1899. This was the first turbine warship of any kind and achieved a remarkable 36 knots (67 km/h) on sea trials. By 1910 the turbine had been widely adopted by all navies for their faster ships.
The second development was the replacement of the torpedo-boat-style turtleback foredeck by a raised forecastle for the new River-class destroyers built in 1903, which provided better sea-keeping as well as more space below deck.
The first warship to use only fuel oil propulsion was the Royal Navy's torpedo boat destroyer HMS Spiteful, after experiments in 1904, although the obsolescence of coal as a fuel in British warships was delayed by its availability. Other navies also adopted oil, for instance the USN with the Paulding class of 1909. In spite of all this variety, destroyers adopted a largely similar pattern. The hull was long and narrow, with a relatively shallow draft. The bow was either raised in a forecastle or covered under a turtleback; underneath this were the crew spaces, extending 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 the way along the hull. Aft of the crew spaces was as much engine space as the technology of the time would allow: several boilers and engines or turbines. Above deck, one or more quick-firing guns were mounted in the bows, in front of the bridge; several more were mounted amidships and astern. Two tube mountings (later on, multiple mountings) were generally found amidships.
Between 1892 and 1914 destroyers became markedly larger: initially 275 tons with a length of 165 feet (50 m) for the Royal Navy's first Havock class of torpedo boat destroyers, up to the First World War with 300-foot (91 m) long destroyers displacing 1000 tons was not unusual. However, construction remained focused on putting the biggest possible engines into a small hull, resulting in a somewhat flimsy construction. Often hulls were built of steel only 1/8 in thick.
By 1910 the steam-driven displacement (that is, not hydroplaning) torpedo boat had become redundant as a separate type. Germany nevertheless continued to build such boats until the end of World War I, although these were effectively small coastal destroyers. In fact Germany never distinguished between the two types, giving them pennant numbers in the same series and never giving names to destroyers. Ultimately the term torpedo boat came to be attached to a quite different vessel – the very fast hydroplaning motor driven MTB.
Navies originally built torpedo boat destroyers to protect against torpedo boats, but admirals soon appreciated the flexibility of the fast, multi-purpose vessels that resulted. Vice-Admiral Sir Baldwin Walker laid down destroyer duties for the Royal Navy:
Early destroyers were extremely cramped places to live, being "without a doubt magnificent fighting vessels... but unable to stand bad weather". During the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, the commander of the torpedo boat destroyer IJN Akatsuki described "being in command of a destroyer for a long period, especially in wartime... is not very good for the health". Stating that he had originally been strong and healthy, he continued, "life on a destroyer in winter, with bad food, no comforts, would sap the powers of the strongest men in the long run. A destroyer is always more uncomfortable than the others, and rain, snow, and sea-water combine to make them damp; in fact, in bad weather there is not a dry spot where one can rest for a moment."
The Japanese destroyer-commander finished with, "Yesterday I looked at myself in a mirror for a long time; I was disagreeably surprised to see my face thin, full of wrinkles, and as old as though I were fifty. My clothes (uniform) cover nothing but a skeleton, and my bones are full of rheumatism."
In 1898 by the US Navy officially classified USS Porter, a 175-foot (53 m) long all steel vessel displacing 165 tons, as a torpedo boat. But her commander, LT. John C. Fremont, described her as "...a compact mass of machinery not meant to keep the sea nor to live in... as five sevenths of the ship are taken up by machinery and fuel, whilst the remaining two sevenths, fore and aft, are the crew's quarters; officers forward and the men placed aft. And even in those spaces are placed anchor engines, steering engines, steam pipes, etc. rendering them unbearably hot in tropical regions."
The torpedo boat destroyer's first major use in combat came during the Japanese surprise attack on the Russian fleet anchored in Port Arthur at the opening of the Russo-Japanese War on 8 February 1904.
Three destroyer divisions attacked the Russian fleet in port, firing a total of 18 torpedoes. However, only two Russian battleships, Tsesarevich and Retvizan, as well as the protected cruiser Pallada, were seriously damaged due to the proper deployment of torpedo nets. Tsesarevich, the Russian flagship, had her nets deployed, with at least four enemy torpedoes "hung up" in them, and other warships were similarly saved from further damage by their nets.
While capital ship engagements were scarce in World War I, destroyer units engaged almost continually in raiding and patrol actions. The first shot of the war at sea was fired on 5 August 1914 by a destroyer of the 2nd Flotilla, HMS Lance, in an engagement with the German auxiliary minelayer Königin Luise.
Destroyers were involved in the skirmishes that prompted the Battle of Heligoland Bight, and filled a range of roles in the Battle of Gallipoli, acting as troop transports and as fire-support vessels, as well as their fleet-screening role. Over 80 British destroyers and 60 German torpedo-boats took part in the Battle of Jutland, which involved pitched small-boat actions between the main fleets, and several foolhardy attacks by unsupported destroyers on capital ships. Jutland also concluded with a messy night action between the German High Seas Fleet and part of the British destroyer screen.
The threat evolved by World War I with the development of the submarine, or U-boat. The submarine had the potential to hide from gunfire and close underwater to fire torpedoes. Early-war destroyers had the speed and armament to intercept submarines before they submerged, either by gunfire or by ramming. Destroyers also had a shallow enough draft that torpedoes would find it difficult to hit them.
The desire to attack submarines underwater led to rapid destroyer evolution during the war. They were quickly equipped with strengthened bows for ramming, and depth charges and hydrophones for identifying submarine targets. The first submarine casualty to a destroyer was the German U-19, rammed by HMS Badger on 29 October 1914. While U-19 was only damaged, the next month HMS Garry successfully sank U-18. The first depth-charge sinking was on 4 December 1916, when UC-19 was sunk by HMS Llewellyn.
The submarine threat meant that many destroyers spent their time on anti-submarine patrol. Once Germany adopted unrestricted submarine warfare in January 1917, destroyers were called on to escort merchant convoys. US Navy destroyers were among the first American units to be dispatched upon the American entry to the war, and a squadron of Japanese destroyers even joined Allied patrols in the Mediterranean. Patrol duty was far from safe; of the 67 British destroyers lost in the war, collisions accounted for 18, while 12 were wrecked.
At the end of the war, the state-of-the-art was represented by the British W class.
The trend during World War I had been towards larger destroyers with heavier armaments. A number of opportunities to fire at capital ships had been missed during the War, because destroyers had expended all their torpedoes in an initial salvo. The British V and W classes of the late war had sought to address this by mounting six torpedo tubes in two triple mounts, instead of the four or two on earlier models. The 'V' and 'W's set the standard of destroyer building well into the 1920s.
The two Romanian destroyers Mărăști and Mărășești, on the other hand, had the greatest firepower of all destroyers in the world throughout the first half of the 1920s. This was largely due to the fact that, between their commissioning in 1920 and 1926, they retained the armament that they had while serving in the Italian Navy as scout cruisers (esploratori). When initially ordered by Romania in 1913, the Romanian specifications envisioned three 120 mm guns, a caliber which would eventually be adopted as the standard for future Italian destroyers. Armed with three 152 mm and four 76 mm guns after being completed as scout cruisers, the two warships were officially re-rated as destroyers by the Romanian Navy. The two Romanian warships were thus the destroyers with the greatest firepower in the world throughout much of the interwar period. As of 1939, when the Second World War started, their artillery, although changed, was still close to cruiser standards, amounting to nine heavy naval guns (five of 120 mm and four of 76 mm). In addition, they retained their two twin 457 mm torpedo tubes as well as two machine guns, plus the capacity to carry up to 50 mines.
The next major innovation came with the Japanese Fubuki class or 'special type', designed in 1923 and delivered in 1928. The design was initially noted for its powerful armament of six five-inch (127 mm) guns and three triple torpedo mounts. The second batch of the class gave the guns high-angle turrets for anti-aircraft warfare, and the 24-inch (61 cm) oxygen-fueled 'Long Lance' Type 93 torpedo. The later Hatsuharu class of 1931 further improved the torpedo armament by storing its reload torpedoes close at hand in the superstructure, allowing reloading within 15 minutes.
Most other nations replied with similar larger ships. The US Porter class adopted twin five-inch (127 mm) guns, and the subsequent Mahan class and Gridley classes (the latter of 1934) increased the number of torpedo tubes to 12 and 16 respectively.
In the Mediterranean, the Italian Navy's building of very fast light cruisers of the Condottieri class prompted the French to produce exceptional destroyer designs. The French had long been keen on large destroyers, with their Chacal class of 1922 displacing over 2,000 tons and carrying 130 mm guns; a further three similar classes were produced around 1930. The Fantasque class of 1935 carried five 138 millimetres (5.4 in) guns and nine torpedo tubes, but could achieve speeds of 45 knots (83 km/h), which remains the record speed for a steamship and for any destroyer. The Italians' own destroyers were almost as swift, most Italian designs of the 1930s being rated at over 38 knots (70 km/h), while carrying torpedoes and either four or six 120 mm guns.
Germany started to build destroyers again during the 1930s as part of Hitler's rearmament program. The Germans were also fond of large destroyers, but while the initial Type 1934 displaced over 3,000 tons, their armament was equal to smaller vessels. This changed from the Type 1936 onwards, which mounted heavy 150 millimetres (5.9 in) guns. German destroyers also used innovative high-pressure steam machinery: while this should have helped their efficiency, it more often resulted in mechanical problems.
Once German and Japanese rearmament became clear, the British and American navies consciously focused on building destroyers that were smaller but more numerous than those used by other nations. The British built a series of destroyers (the A class to I class) which were about 1,400 tons standard displacement, had four 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns and eight torpedo tubes; the American Benson class of 1938 similar in size, but carried five 5-inch (127 mm) guns and ten torpedo tubes. Realizing the need for heavier gun armament, the British built the Tribal class of 1936 (sometimes called Afridi after one of two lead ships). These ships displaced 1,850 tons and were armed with eight 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns in four twin turrets and four torpedo tubes. These were followed by the J-class and L-class destroyers, with six 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns in twin turrets and eight torpedo tubes.
Anti-submarine sensors included sonar (or ASDIC), although training in their use was indifferent. Anti-submarine weapons changed little, and ahead-throwing weapons, a need recognized in World War I, had made no progress.
During the 1920s and 1930s destroyers were often deployed to areas of diplomatic tension or humanitarian disaster. British and American destroyers were common on the Chinese coast and rivers, even supplying landing parties to protect colonial interests.
By World War II the threat had evolved once again. Submarines were more effective, and aircraft had become important weapons of naval warfare; once again the early-war fleet destroyers were ill-equipped for combating these new targets. They were fitted with new light anti-aircraft guns, radar, and forward-launched ASW weapons, in addition to their existing dual-purpose guns, depth charges, and torpedoes. In most cases torpedo and/or dual-purpose gun armament was reduced to accommodate new anti-air and anti-submarine weapons. By this time the destroyers had become large, multi-purpose vessels, expensive targets in their own right. As a result, casualties on destroyers were among the highest.
The need for large numbers of anti-submarine ships led to the introduction of smaller and cheaper specialized anti-submarine warships called corvettes and frigates by the Royal Navy and destroyer escorts by the USN. A similar programme was belatedly started by the Japanese (see Matsu-class destroyer). These ships had the size and displacement of the original torpedo boat destroyers that the contemporary destroyer had evolved from.
Some conventional destroyers were completed in the late 1940s and 1950s which built on wartime experience. These vessels were significantly larger than wartime ships and had fully automatic main guns, unit Machinery, radar, sonar, and antisubmarine weapons such as the Squid mortar. Examples include the British Daring-class, US Forrest Sherman-class, and the Soviet Kotlin-class destroyers.
Some World War II–vintage ships were modernized for anti-submarine warfare, and to extend their service lives, to avoid having to build (expensive) brand-new ships. Examples include the US FRAM I programme and the British Type 15 frigates converted from fleet destroyers.
The advent of surface-to-air missiles and surface-to-surface missiles, such as the Exocet, in the early 1960s changed naval warfare. Guided missile destroyers (DDG in the US Navy) were developed to carry these weapons and protect the fleet from air, submarine and surface threats. Examples include the Soviet Kashin class, the British County class, and the US Charles F. Adams class.
21st century destroyers tend to display features such as large, slab sides without complicated corners and crevices to keep the radar cross-section small, vertical launch systems to carry a large number of missiles at high readiness to fire and helicopter flight decks and hangars.
Royal Australian Navy is currently building three Hobart-class destroyers. These ships are to replace the aging Adelaide-class frigates. Their design is similar to that of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the Álvaro de Bazán-class destroyer. They will also use the AEGIS Combat System. The first unit, HMAS Hobart, was commissioned on 23 September 2017.
People's Liberation Army Navy is currently in the process of adding up to 18 ships of the Type 052D destroyer class. Serial construction is underway for at-least 6 of the larger and more powerful Type 055 destroyer, which at the current rate of production, should be complete by late 2019 or early 2020.
French Navy is adding eight more FREMM multipurpose frigates to their fleet, while also negotiating plans to export a number of units to the Hellenic Navy and attempted to sell units to the Royal Canadian Navy.
German Navy is currently building four F125-class frigates. Although classified by Germany as frigates, they are destroyers in terms of size. They are to replace the aging Bremen-class frigates. The first unit, Baden-Wurttemberg, was planned to be commissioned in 2017 with "F" being the NATO hull, but was returned to the builder after problems were found.
In addition, six multi-mission surface combat ships are planned under the name 'Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180' (MKS 180), which will have destroyer-size and corresponding capabilities
Islamic Republic of Iran Navy is currently adding four more Moudge-class frigates to its fleet. Iran is also building six Khalije Fars-class destroyers, these ships are to become the largest vessels in the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy and are expected to enter service in the coming years.
Marina Militare is adding six more FREMM multipurpose frigates to their fleet, while also negotiating plans to export a number of units to the Hellenic Navy and attempting to sell units to the Royal Canadian Navy.
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force is currently developing plans for its 25DD destroyers and its DDR Destroyer Revolution Project. Japan is also planning the construction of four new AEGIS-equipped destroyers, whose class is yet to be named. Additionally, plans have been laid out for Japan's new 30FF anti-submarine destroyer. These ships are expected to enter service between 2018–2019. Japan also recently launched JDS Asahi, the lead ship of her new class of destroyers. She will be commissioned in 2018.
Republic of Korea Navy has begun development of its KDX-IIA destroyers. These ships are to be a subclass of South Korea's Chungmugong Yi Sun-shin-class destroyers. The first unit is expected to enter service in 2019. Additionally, three more Sejong the Great-class destroyers are being built.
Russian Navy has begun development into its Leader-class destroyer. These ships will be the first destroyers built in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union and will be nuclear powered. The first unit is expected to enter service in 2023, with 11 more units to follow in the coming years. Additionally, Russia is also developing it's Yuschchenko-class destroyers. These ships are expected to be multi-purpose destroyers tasked with reinforcing a modern Russian surface combat fleet.
United States Navy The last Spruance-class destroyer in service, USS Cushing, was decommissioned on 21 September 2005. The Zumwalt class is planned to replace them; on 1 November 2001, the US Navy announced the issuance of a revised Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Future Surface Combatant Program. Formerly known as DD 21, the program was renamed DD(X) (and later renamed to DDG-1000) to more accurately reflect the program purpose, which is to produce a family of advanced technology surface combatants, not a single ship class. DD(X), also called Zumwalt class, is much larger than traditional destroyers, nearly three thousand tons heavier than a Ticonderoga-class cruiser (15,610 long tons, larger than most heavy cruisers from the World War II era). It will potentially employ advanced weaponry and an all-electric Integrated Power System; however, the construction program was subsequently reduced to just two vessels, and there is currently only funding for three in total. With the retirement of the Spruance class, the US Navy began commissioning an advanced variant of the Arleigh Burke class with expanded ASW capabilities, the Arleigh Burke Flight IIA, beginning with USS Oscar Austin. As of 2012, 34 of these vessels are in service, with more under construction.
A number of countries have destroyers preserved as museum ships. These include:
Media related to Destroyers at Wikimedia CommonsAllen M. Sumner-class destroyer
The Allen M. Sumner class was a group of 58 destroyers built by the United States during World War II. Another twelve ships were completed as destroyer minelayers. Often referred to as simply the Sumner class, this class was characterized by their twin 5-inch/38 caliber gun mounts, dual rudders, additional anti-aircraft weapons, and many other advancements over the previous Fletcher class. The Allen M. Sumner design was extended 14 feet (4.3 m) amidships to become the Gearing class, which was produced in larger numbers.
Completed in 1943–45, four were lost in the war and two were damaged so badly they were scrapped, but the surviving ships served in the US Navy into the 1970s. After being retired from the US fleet, 29 of them were sold to other navies, where they served many more years. One still exists as a museum ship in South Carolina.Arleigh Burke-class destroyer
The Arleigh Burke class of guided missile destroyers (DDGs) is the United States Navy's first class of destroyer built around the Aegis Combat System and the SPY-1D multifunction passive electronically scanned array radar. The class is named for Admiral Arleigh Burke, an American destroyer officer in World War II, and later Chief of Naval Operations. The class leader, USS Arleigh Burke, was commissioned during Admiral Burke's lifetime.
These warships were designed as multimission destroyers, able to fulfill the strategic land strike role with Tomahawk missiles; antiaircraft warfare (AAW) role with powerful Aegis radar and surface-to-air missiles; antisubmarine warfare (ASW), with towed sonar array, anti-submarine rockets, and ASW helicopter; and antisurface warfare (ASuW) with Harpoon missile launcher. With upgrades to their AN/SPY-1 phased radar systems and their associated missile payloads as part of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, the ships of this class have also begun to demonstrate some promise as mobile antiballistic missile and anti-satellite weaponry platforms. Some versions of the class no longer have the towed sonar, or Harpoon missile launcher. Their hull and superstructure were designed to have a reduced radar cross-section.The first ship of the class was commissioned on 4 July 1991. With the decommissioning of the last Spruance-class destroyer, USS Cushing, on 21 September 2005, the Arleigh Burke-class ships became the U.S. Navy's only active destroyers, until the Zumwalt class became active in 2016. The Arleigh Burke class has the longest production run for any post-World War II U.S. Navy surface combatant. Besides the 62 vessels of this class (comprising 21 of Flight I, 7 of Flight II and 34 of Flight IIA) in service by 2016, up to a further 42 (of Flight III) have been envisioned.
With an overall length of 505 to 509 feet (154 to 155 m), displacement ranging from 8,315 to 9,200 tons, and weaponry including over 90 missiles, the Arleigh Burke class are larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.Cannon-class destroyer escort
The Cannon class was a class of destroyer escorts built by the United States primarily for ocean antisubmarine warfare escort service during World War II. The lead ship, USS Cannon, was commissioned on 26 September 1943 at Wilmington, Delaware. Of the 116 ships ordered, 44 were cancelled and six were commissioned directly into the Free French Forces. Destroyer escorts were regular companions escorting the vulnerable cargo ships.
With the decommissioning of the Philippine Navy's BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11) in March 2018, HTMS Pin Klao (DE-1) of the Royal Thai Navy, remains the only confirmed commissioned ship of this class as of 2018.Destroyer (Marvel Comics)
The Destroyer is the name of three fictional superheroes appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. One of the earliest creations of major comics-industry figure Stan Lee, the original incarnation first appeared in the 1940s during what historians and fans call the Golden Age of comic books. Modern incarnations created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins appeared in Invaders #18 (July 1977), and Invaders #26 (March 1978). The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe clarifies that all three versions of the character are considered canon.Destroyer (Thor)
The Destroyer is a fictional magical character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Usually depicted as an opponent of the Thunder God and hero Thor, it is in fact a suit of Asgardian armor animated by magic. The character first appears in Journey into Mystery #118 (Jul. 1965) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
Debuting in the Silver Age of Comic Books, the Destroyer is featured in over four decades of Marvel continuity and other Marvel-endorsed products such as animated television series, live-action films, video games, and merchandise such as action figures and trading cards. Due to trademark issues, at least one toy version of this character is marketed as Marvel's Destroyer.The Destroyer appears in the 2011 live-action film Thor.Destroyer escort
Destroyer escort (DE) was the United States Navy mid-20th-century classification for a 20-knot (23 mph) warship designed with endurance to escort mid-ocean convoys of merchant marine ships. Kaibōkan were designed for a similar role in the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Royal Navy and Commonwealth forces identified such warships as frigates, and that classification was widely accepted when the United States redesignated destroyer escorts as frigates (FF) in 1975. Destroyer escorts, frigates, and kaibōkan were mass-produced for World War II as a less expensive antisubmarine warfare alternative to fleet destroyers. Other similar warships include the 10 Kriegsmarine escort ships of the F-class and the two Amiral Murgescu-class vessels of the Romanian Navy.
Postwar destroyer escorts and frigates were larger than those produced during wartime, with increased antiaircraft capability, but remained smaller and slower than postwar destroyers. As Cold War destroyer escorts became as large as wartime destroyers, the United States Navy converted some of their World War II destroyers to escort destroyers (DDE).Douglas B-66 Destroyer
The Douglas B-66 Destroyer is a United States Air Force light bomber based on the U.S. Navy's A-3 Skywarrior carrier-based heavy attack aircraft. The B-66 was intended to replace the Douglas A-26 Invader, and an RB-66 photo-reconnaissance version was ordered simultaneously. The USAF B-66 retained the three-man crew from the US Navy A-3, but incorporated ejection seats that the US Navy variant lacked.Drax the Destroyer
Drax the Destroyer (Arthur Douglas) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by Jim Starlin, the character first appeared in The Invincible Iron Man #55 (February 1973).
The character's origin story relates that Arthur Douglas was a human whose family was attacked and killed by the supervillain Thanos. Needing a champion to combat Thanos, the being known as Kronos took Arthur's spirit and placed it in a powerful new body, and Drax the Destroyer was born. Drax's powers included enhanced strength and resilience, flight, and the ability to project energy blasts from his hands. The character often battled Thanos, and on occasion the superheroes Captain Marvel and Adam Warlock. He was also a member of the group known as the Infinity Watch.
In 2004, the character lost his flight and energy blasts, and a portion of his strength and resilience. This version of the character played a role in the crossover comic book storylines "Annihilation" and "Annihilation: Conquest", and became a member of the relaunched Guardians of the Galaxy.
Drax has been featured in a variety of associated Marvel merchandise, including animated television series, action figures, and video games. He is portrayed by Dave Bautista in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and the upcoming film Avengers: Endgame (2019).Fletcher-class destroyer
The Fletcher class was a class of destroyers built by the United States during World War II. The class was designed in 1939, as a result of dissatisfaction with the earlier destroyer leader types of the Porter and Somers classes. Some went on to serve during the Korean War and into the Vietnam War.The United States Navy commissioned 175 Fletcher-class destroyers between 1942 and 1944, more than any other destroyer class, and the design was generally regarded as highly successful. Fletchers had a design speed of 38 knots and an armament of five 5" guns in single mounts with 10 21" torpedoes in two quintuple centerline mounts. The Allen M. Sumner and Gearing classes were Fletcher derivatives.
The long-range Fletcher-class ships performed every task asked of a destroyer, from anti-submarine warfare and anti-aircraft warfare to surface action. They could cover the vast distances required by fleet actions in the Pacific and served almost exclusively in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II, during which they accounted for 29 Imperial Japanese Navy submarines sunk. In a massive effort, the Fletchers were built by shipyards across the United States and, after World War II ended, 11 were sold to countries that they had been built to fight against: Italy, Germany, and Japan, as well as other countries, where they had even longer, distinguished careers. Three have been preserved as museum ships in the U.S. and one in Greece.Gearing-class destroyer
The Gearing class was a series of 98 destroyers built for the U.S. Navy during and shortly after World War II. The Gearing design was a minor modification of the Allen M. Sumner class, whereby the hull was lengthened by 14 ft (4.3 m) at amidships, which resulted in more fuel storage space and increased the operating range.
The first Gearings were not ready for service until mid-1945 and thus saw little service in World War II. They continued serving, with a series of upgrades, until the 1970s. At that time many were sold to other nations, where they served many more years.
Nine Gearing-class ships still exist. ARM Netzahualcóyotl (ex-Steinaker) was active in the Mexican Navy until 2014 and is slated to be sunk as an artificial reef. As of April 2012 two were laid up in non-operational condition in Kaohsiung, Taiwan: ROCS Chien Yang (ex-James E. Kyes) and ROCS Sheng Yang, (ex-Power). The other six are museum ships: TCG Gayret, (ex-Eversole), in Izmit, Turkey; ROKS Jeong Buk, (ex-Everett F. Larson), near Gangneung, South Korea; ROCS Te Yang, (ex-Sarsfield), in Tainan, Taiwan; USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. in Fall River, Massachusetts; ROKS Jeong Ju, (ex-Rogers), near Cheonan, South Korea and USS Orleck in Lake Charles, Louisiana. ROKS Kang Won (ex-William R. Rush), formerly a museum near Busan, South Korea, was scrapped as of December 2016.Gleaves-class destroyer
The Gleaves-class destroyers were a class of 66 destroyers of the United States Navy built 1938–42, designed by Gibbs & Cox. The first ship of the class was USS Gleaves. They were the production destroyer of the US Navy when it entered World War II.
The Gleaves class were initially specified as part of a 24-ship Benson class authorized in fiscal years 1938–40; however, Bethlehem Shipbuilding requested that the six ships designed by them use less complex machinery. Initially, Gleaves and Niblack, although designed by Gibbs & Cox and built by Bath Iron Works, were to follow the Benson design. This temporarily made Livermore the lead ship with more complex machinery, so the class was initially called the Livermore class, and this name persisted through World War II. However, it soon proved possible for Gleaves and Niblack to be built to the Livermore design. Since Gleaves was completed before Livermore and had a lower hull number, the class is more correctly the Gleaves class. Eighteen of these were commissioned in 1940–41. The remaining 48 “repeat Gleaveses” were authorized in 1940–42. These plus the 16 "repeat Bensons" were also known at the time as the Bristol class, after USS Bristol. During World War II the Bensons were usually combined with the Livermores (more correctly the Gleaves class) as the Benson-Livermore class; this persisted in references until at least the 1960s. The classes are now called the Benson-Gleaves class. In some references both classes are combined and called the Benson class. The Benson- and Gleaves-class destroyers were the backbone of the pre-war Neutrality Patrols and brought the action to the enemy by participating in every major naval campaign of the war.Guided missile destroyer
A guided-missile destroyer is a destroyer designed to launch guided missiles. Many are also equipped to carry out anti-submarine, anti-air, and anti-surface operations. The NATO standard designation for these vessels is DDG. Nations vary in their use of destroyer D designation in their hull pennant numbering, either prefixing or dropping it altogether. The U.S. Navy has adopted the classification DDG in the American hull classification system.
In addition to the guns, a guided-missile destroyer is usually equipped with two large missile magazines, usually in vertical-launch cells. Some guided-missile destroyers contain powerful radar systems, such as the United States’ Aegis Combat System, and may be adopted for use in an anti-missile or ballistic-missile defense role. This is especially true of navies that no longer operate cruisers, so other vessels must be adopted to fill in the gap.List of current ships of the United States Navy
The United States Navy has approximately 490 ships in both active service and the reserve fleet, with approximately 90 more in either the planning and ordering stages or under construction, according to the Naval Vessel Register and published reports. This list includes ships that are owned and leased by the U.S. Navy; ships that are formally commissioned, by way of ceremony, and non-commissioned. Ships denoted with the prefix "USS" are commissioned ships. Prior to commissioning, ships may be described as a "pre-commissioning unit" or PCU, but are officially referred to by name with no prefix. US Navy support ships are often non-commissioned ships organized and operated by Military Sealift Command. Among these support ships, those denoted "USNS" are owned by the US Navy. Those denoted by "MV" or "SS" are chartered.
Current ships include commissioned warships that are in active service, as well as ships that are part of Military Sealift Command, the support component and the Ready Reserve Force, that while non-commissioned, are still part of the effective force of the U.S. Navy. Future ships listed are those that are in the planning stages, or are currently under construction, from having its keel laid to fitting out and final sea trials.
There exist a number of former US Navy ships which are museum ships (not listed here), some of which may be US government-owned. One of these, USS Constitution, a three-masted tall ship, is one of the original six frigates of the United States Navy. It is the oldest naval vessel afloat, and still retains its commission (and hence is listed here), as a special commemoration for that ship alone.List of destroyer escorts of the United States Navy
This is a list of destroyer escorts of the United States Navy, listed in a table sortable by both name and hull-number. It includes the hull classification symbols DE (both Destroyer Escort and Ocean Escort), DEG, and DER.
The Lend-lease Act was passed into law in the USA in March 1941 enabling the United Kingdom to procure merchant ships, warships and munitions etc. from the USA, in order to help with the war effort. This enabled the UK to commission the USA to design, build and supply an escort vessel that was suitable for anti submarine warfare in deep open ocean situations, which they did in June 1941. Captain E.L. Cochrane of the American Bureau of Shipping came up with a design which was known as the British Destroyer Escort (BDE). The BDE designation was retained by the first six Destroyer Escorts transferred to the United Kingdom (BDE 1, 2, 3, 4, 12 and 46); of the initial order of 50 these were the only ones the Royal Navy received, the rest being reclassified as Destroyer Escort (DE) on 25 January 1943 and taken over by the United States Navy.Ships that were classified DE or DEG were reclassified in 1975 as FF or FFG (frigates). This affected hull numbers DE-1037 and higher as well as all DEGs.Sovremenny-class destroyer
The Sovremenny-class destroyer is a class of anti-surface warship of the Soviet and later Russian Navy. The Soviet designation for the class was Project 956 Sarych (Buzzard), while the NATO designation derives from the name of the lead ship, Sovremenny (Russian: Современный). The ships are named after qualities, with "Sovremenny" translating as "modern" or "contemporary". Most of the ships have been retired from active service, though several remain in commission with the Russian Navy, either in reserve or undergoing overhaul. Another is a museum ship. Four modified ships were delivered to the People's Liberation Army Navy, and remain in service.
The Sovremenny class were guided missile destroyers, primarily tasked with anti-ship warfare, while also providing sea and air defense for warships and transports under escort. The class was designed to complement the Udaloy-class destroyers, which were fitted primarily for anti-submarine operations.Star Destroyer
Star Destroyers are capital ships in the fictional Star Wars universe. The Imperial Star Destroyer, which first appears in the first seconds of Star Wars (1977), is "the signature vessel of the Imperial fleet". Each star destroyer functioned as a forward operating base responsible for safeguarding multiple planets, trade routes and systems, and carried enough firepower to subdue an entire planetary system or annihilate a small rebel fleet. The term "Star Destroyer" also refers to other "triangular" vessels in the franchise; the successful v-shaped designs are explained in Legends as originating from Sith influence, and have been adapted by numerous factions for a wide variety of applications.
Numerous Star Destroyer models and toys have been released, and the iconic scene featuring the vessel's first appearance pursuing Princess Leia's starship has been called a milestone in special effects history.Tank destroyer
A tank destroyer or tank hunter is a type of armoured fighting vehicle, armed with a direct-fire artillery gun or missile launcher, with limited operational capacities and designed specifically to engage enemy tanks.
Tanks are armoured fighting vehicles designed for front-line combat, combining operational mobility and tactical offensive and defensive capabilities; tanks perform all primary tasks of the armoured troops. The tank destroyer on the other hand is specifically designed to take on enemy tanks and other armoured fighting vehicles. Many are based on a tracked tank chassis, while others are wheeled.
Since World War II, gun-armed tank destroyers have fallen out of favor as armies have favored multirole main battle tanks. However, lightly armored anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) carriers are commonly used for supplementary long-range anti-tank work. The resurgence of expeditionary warfare in the first two decades of the 21st century has seen the emergence of gun-armed wheeled vehicles, sometimes called protected gun systems, which may bear a superficial resemblance to tank destroyers, but are employed as direct fire support units typically providing support in low-intensity operations such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.Wickes-class destroyer
The Wickes-class destroyers were a class of 111 destroyers built by the United States Navy in 1917–19. Along with the 6 preceding Caldwell-class and 156 subsequent Clemson-class destroyers, they formed the "flush-deck" or "four-stack" type. Only a few were completed in time to serve in World War I, including USS Wickes, the lead ship of the class.
While some were scrapped in the 1930s, the rest served through World War II. Most of these were converted to other uses; nearly all in U.S. service had half their boilers and one or more stacks removed to increase fuel and range or accommodate troops. Others were transferred to the British Royal Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy, some of which were later transferred to the Soviet Navy. All were scrapped within a few years after World War II.Zumwalt-class destroyer
The Zumwalt-class destroyer is a class of United States Navy guided missile destroyers designed as multi-mission stealth ships with a focus on land attack. It is a multi-role class that was designed for secondary roles of surface warfare and anti-aircraft warfare and originally designed with a primary role of naval gunfire support. It was intended to take the place of battleships in meeting a congressional mandate for naval fire support. The ship is designed around its two Advanced Gun Systems, their turrets and magazines, and unique Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP) ammunition. LRLAP procurement was cancelled, rendering the guns unusable, so the Navy is re-purposing the ships for surface warfare. The class design emerged from the DD-21 "land attack destroyer" program as "DD(X)".
The vessels' distinctive appearance results from the design requirement for a low radar cross-section (RCS). The Zumwalt-class has a wave-piercing tumblehome hull form whose sides slope inward above the waterline, which dramatically reduces RCS by returning much less energy than a conventional flare hull form. The appearance has been compared to that of the historic USS Monitor, although it is actually more similar to CSS Virginia, Monitor's famous antagonist.
The class has an integrated power system that can send electricity from its turbo-generators to the electric drive motors or weapons, the Total Ship Computing Environment Infrastructure (TSCEI), automated fire-fighting systems, and automated piping rupture isolation. The class is designed to require a smaller crew and to be less expensive to operate than comparable warships.
The lead ship is named Zumwalt for Admiral Elmo Zumwalt and carries the hull number DDG-1000. Originally, 32 ships were planned, with $9.6 billion research and development costs spread across the class. As costs overran estimates, the quantity was reduced to 24, then to 7, and finally to 3, significantly increasing the cost per ship to $4.24 billion (excluding R&D costs) and well exceeding the per-unit cost of a nuclear-powered Virginia-class submarine ($2.688 billion). The dramatic per-unit cost increases eventually triggered a Nunn–McCurdy Amendment breach and cancellation of further production. In April 2016, the total program cost was $22.5 billion, with an average cost of $7.5 billion per ship.
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